Banns of marriage

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The banns of marriage, commonly known simply as the "banns" or "bans" (from a Middle English word meaning "proclamation," rooted in Old French[1]) are the public announcement in a Christian parish church of an impending marriage between two specified persons. It is commonly associated with the Church of England and with other denominations whose traditions are similar; the Roman Catholic Church abolished the requirement in 1983.

The purpose of banns is to enable anyone to raise any canonical or civil legal impediment to the marriage, so as to prevent marriages that are invalid. Impediments vary between legal jurisdictions, but would normally include a pre-existing marriage that has been neither dissolved nor annulled, a vow of celibacy, lack of consent, or the couple's being related within the prohibited degrees of kinship.

Banns were announced in the home parishes for the parties involved for three Sundays in a row.  In some places, the words once spoken by the priest were: "I publish the banns of marriage between (Name of party) of the Parish of........ and (Name of other party) of this Parish. If any of you know cause or just impediment why these persons should not be joined together in Holy Matrimony, ye are to declare it. This is for the (first, second, third) time of asking."



  1. AMHER, banns, also bans: (Middle English banes, pl. of ban, proclamation, from Old French ban (of Germanic origin).